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The Animalizing Imagination

Totemism, Textuality and Ecocriticism

The Animalizing Imagination
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Human-animal relations are not confined to the literal animal, but extend to psychological, textual and conceptual animal presences. Drawing from a wide range of disciplines, including reference to contemporary cultural events, Alan Bleakley tracks the significance of the animal for human thinking, imagination, religion and aesthetic life. Where humanity can be seen to have defined itself through difference from animal life, he argues that a restoration to the animal commonwealth is essential in an era of ecological crisis, and this has opened up a new arena of study: ecocriticism.

However, while considering issues such as animal conservation, rights and welfare, the emphasis here is upon our responsibility also to textual and imaginal animals, where animal rights may be re-visioned as animal rites. The pre-modern animal totemism defined by the activities of the shaman offers a model of animal rites based in an affective and aesthetic relationship, but is re-defined for a post-modern information age in terms of an animalizing imagination, offering a new aesthetic.
Palgrave Macmillan; November 1999
192 pages; ISBN 9780230287259
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